Works in the Bulletin 1909

A word as applied to tactics has a different meaning from the same word if used in a personal sense. - Alfred Deakin.

It is truly as lucid as lucid can be;
   It is plain as the nose on your face
Though the tactics may be a disgrace, don't you see,
   The tactician is not a disgrace.
He may wobble and swerve and crayfish and curve -
   It is all of it part of the game -
But you mustn't say "Wobbler," for, prithee, observe
   That the meaning is not quite the same.

One might carry this argument ever so far - There is not the least good in denying That though a man's talk may be lies you must baulk At describing the talker as "lying." His work may be slow, but it's nonsense, you know. To declare that the man's a "slow worker." And it he should shirk in the House all his work 'Twould be foolish to call him a "shirker."
In quoting such things one could fill up a ream; It is so to the end of the chatter. A man who adapts his adversary's scheme, He need never be called an "adapter." And if he should fuse, it is not the least use To describe him as being a "Fuser." Such a use of the word is distinctly absurd, And would earn but contempt for the user.
For a statesman's a statesman right on to the end, Never mind what his actions resemble; He may bargain and palter and stumble and falter And wheedle and scheme and dissemble. But, observe, these are acts, and though probably facts That would earn for the mere politician A horrible name, it is not quite the same When applied to a master tactician.
And so, you electors, when chewing the ended Of reflection, attend to this study. And observe, though a member may meddle with mud He in not, of necessity, muddy. Though he turns like a weathercock ten ways at once, Till you never know which way he's leaning, To call him a weathercock proves you a dunce, For it has quite a different meaning.

The Bulletin, 14 October 1909, p20

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002